23 January 2017

Margaret Roberts

Trial of Sophie's Circles 2017

Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January
Opening Saturday 28 January 3-5pm

Trial of Sophie's Circles treats Sophie Taeuber's 1934 gouache painting, Moving Circles, as a long distance performance in which its 24 circles are in pause-mode (for 83 years so far), waiting, like the Agave 'century plants', to begin to actually move. I think of it as a long performance rather than as cross-dimensional travel, because Sophie was one of the early twentieth century artists who regarded the shapes they painted as occupying the same space as the material they used to paint them with, rather than using them to create other, illusory or representational spaces.

This project is like my recent work with Katarzyna Kobro's sculptures, in which I make a first stage of one of her works, and then wait for people to come along and move it towards the stage at which Katarzyna left it. In Trial of Sophies' Circles, Sophie has already made that first stage in 1934, and has been waiting all these years for us to give them the spatial energy to move (as she seems to ask for in the title). Many people may have 'moved 'the circles in their imagination since 1934, but Trial of Sophie's Circles will let them move in the actual space she intended her painted circles to occupy.

Trial of Sophie's Circles does this by providing 24 circles for people to physically move around inside an oblong of ground of the same proportion as the painting itself. The painted circles themselves will stay on the paper where Sophie put them, however, and enlarged circles will be provided, as circle-avatars, to better match the scale of the human bodies providing the energy needed for the circles to move. It is a trial for Sophie's Circles, a work planned for The Correspondence of Imaginary Places, a project organised by Sarah Breen Lovett for Cementa17. The plan is that Sophie's Circles will be made by Brooklyn artist Melissa Staiger and its documentation will be shown in Cuchifritos Gallery in New York in May-June 2017 and at ArticulateUpstairs at the same time.